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02/08/2022

Energy Storage Batteries Can Power Your Home and Future

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6 MIN. READ

Adopting clean energy solutions, such as newer energy storage batteries and an electric vehicle, is a huge step toward eliminating your fossil fuel dependence. And it is now more possible than ever.

Batteries are a big part of the energy transition. The technology has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade.

New highly efficient designs can store energy to reliably power homes for a long time. If you are looking for ways to empower yourself and make your home more efficient, you don’t have to choose between power and the planet. You also don’t have to fear that your solar panels will not enable you to charge your electric vehicle during a storm. Batteries can help you turn to clean energy instead of a polluting diesel generator in a pinch. In fact,  concerns about climate change and the desire for clean energy are driving up demand for battery energy storage so people can access clean electricity as needed. As a result, the U.S. battery energy storage system market is expected to flourish at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37.3% by 2028.

Before adding storage batteries in your garage, it is important to understand battery basics and what your options are. You’ll also want to seek expert help to make the right electrification decisions for your unique home situation and energy needs.

Why energy storage batteries?

Energy storage is not new. Batteries have been used for more than 200 years. Simply put, a battery is merely a device that stores energy and later discharges it by converting it to electricity. Many different materials can be used in batteries, such as alkaline and lithium ion.

On a broader scale, hydroelectric energy has been stored since 1930 in the U.S. Pumped storage hydropower (PSH) uses water reservoirs at different elevations to generate power as the water moves down from one reservoir to the next through a turbine. This system is a battery because it stores power and then releases it when needed. The U.S. generated 4 billion megawatt-hours of electricity in 2017 from all sources. However, PSH is still the primary large-scale means of energy storage today. It comprised 95% of energy storage used by utilities in the U.S. that year. However, demand for a more dynamic, cleaner grid is inspiring new energy storage projects from sources beyond hydropower. It’s also leading to newer energy storage solutions.

Do I need energy storage at home?

In the “old days,” people kept battery-powered flashlights and radios (and extra batteries) around for emergencies. Many also kept non-environmentally friendly emergency generators around. Modern energy storage systems accelerate that effort to power the whole house, offering more sustainability as well as economic, social and environmental benefits. They supply electricity on demand, providing greater flexibility and power reliability. They can also reduce expenses for energy consumers and, of course, lessen the climate impact from power generation.

Access to charged-up energy storage batteries lets you operate off the grid. So, you can keep your lights on and EV charged if your utility-transmitted power is cut due to weather, fires or other outages. An additional benefit for homeowners and businesses that are not sure about their future needs is that energy storage options are scalable.

You may wonder if you really need storage in your home. Odds are you do. Consider:

  • Does your area rely heavily on solar, hydroelectric or wind power — all of which may not be available 24/7?
  • Do you have solar panels and want to store the power they generate for later use?
  • Does your utility turn off the electricity when wind conditions threaten power lines or to conserve energy on hot days?
  • Does your area have grid resilience or severe weather issues, as demonstrated by recent outages caused by unusual weather in parts of Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina?

Concerns about these issues are solid reasons to store energy in batteries. Yes, if you’re in a pinch, you can draw energy from your EV if it is enabled for bidirectional charging. However, energy storage battery technology can help keep your power going using green energy when needed.

What about state and federal regulations on storage innovation?

The outages and aging infrastructure have spurred more interest in energy storage batteries and other green technologies. In 2018, the federal government sought to remove barriers to energy storage technologies and committed funding to develop more. The Department of Energy committed $30 million to developing enough energy storage capabilities to power the electrical grid for 100 hours.

Several states have also taken an interest in energy storage and set goals to encourage its use. They have placed a priority on the use of battery storage by setting up support programs, rate plans and energy storage capacity targets. The nine states that have taken action as of fall 2021 are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

What are the best energy storage battery options today?

Energy storage batteries come in a variety of options. The marketplace segments them based on:

  • Ownership by customer, third party or utility.
  • Connection on- or off-grid.
  • Energy capacity (ranging from below 100 MWh to over 500 MWh).
  • Application, such as residential, commercial or utility-owned.
  • Battery type. While different lead-acid, compressed air, hydrogen and other battery storage systems exist, lithium-ion batteries are the most popular choice. With their high energy density and light weight, they comprise over 90% of the battery storage market.

What are some of the best battery systems available for home use right now? Here are five current industry leaders: I don’t think these are the top 5 for residential applications. I would remove this section.

  • Tesla Power Wall. This 13.5-kWh system makes the switch to the backup battery simple, and you can connect multiple units to ensure you have adequate power for your home.
  • Ego Power. The 3000-W Ego Power station is heavy, weighing nearly 57 pounds, and does not have wheels. It is strong enough to supply power to mobile devices, computers and medical devices for a limited time.
  • MeritSun Power Wall. Designed as a solar storage battery, the MeritSun can also be charged using regular electricity. The units’ power levels are 5 kWh to 10 kWh, but you can connect up to 15 of them to power your home.
  • GSC Power Wall. The GSC battery backup system capabilities range from 2.5 kWh for one module to 15 kWh when connecting six modules. It can be scaled higher using up to 20 units of 5 kWh each.
  • Vigorous 3000-W Portable Power Station. The Vigorous batteries deliver less power but are helpful for limited home use or camping. They can be recharged using solar power, regular electricity or your EV. This system will power small electrical appliances and is portable.

Be aware that the burgeoning interest in energy storage batteries and similar tech is creating a lot of challenges in the marketplace. These range from concerns about the supply chain to definitions of various terms in purchase and maintenance agreements. Energy-as-a-service firms are emerging in which a customer pays for an all-inclusive package and not per unit consumed. They are offering long-term agreements. These new market participants promise demand management, storage and greater efficiency. However, the concept — while used in other industries — is still too new.

Getting connected

Homeowners need to understand their energy consumption. This includes both current and future consumption if you plan to add another EV or upgrade the HVAC. That will help you determine the kind of battery needed and how long you really need it to power your home in an outage. Then you can begin to consider what type of support you need to add new storage or charging capabilities and, over time, to maintain them.

Installing a home storage battery setup is complicated. The battery system needs to work with your home’s circuit panel, distribute power through your circuits, be properly mounted and not be an eyesore. A critical load panel is also recommended to manage usage in emergencies. Then there are other important details, such as building codes and permit requirements.

Even if you are an electrician or engineer, preparing your home to charge an EV or retain and use stored energy requires non-routine expertise. That’s why so many homeowners and firms contract with Qmerit to make the switch to clean energy. Qmerit is a national leader in electrification — from installing Level 2 home charging stations and energy storage batteries to integrating solar power to working with the latest energy-efficient technology. With Qmerit’s certified network of installers throughout the U.S. and Canada, we can connect you with the best available contractors to install and maintain your energy storage batteries.

To find out more about establishing a sustainable future for your home, contact Qmerit today.

Lowry Stoops President, Qmerit Network